What Could Be More Important Than the Destination?


What Could Be More Important Than the Destination?

Have you ever put your destination into a GPS and sat motionless (car idling) while the directions loaded?

Perhaps you haven’t even left the curb, or you’ve stopped short of a major intersection, but you know that the next decision you make is important. The next step will either move you closer to your destination or further from it.

Smartphones have made life much easier than the days of street directories and folded maps. But occasionally we find ourselves with no internet or a flat battery, and god forbid, we have to ask for help. When I ask someone for directions, I’m more likely to remember them if they’re described visually. If they mention compass points, they may as well be speaking a foreign language. As a child of the seventies, I’m not phased by references to 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock but talk to me in terms like ‘latitude’, ‘head east’ or anything involving ‘degrees’ and I’ll glaze over.

I take my directions from landmarks. If I don’t have my precious GPS to guide me, I need directions that get me from milestone to milestone. Turn left at Bunnings. Go through four roundabouts. Pass the lake on the left, and you’ll see a sign that will take you to the freeway. They’re the sort of directions that work for me.

So, there are two things I have learned about business from these simple truths. One is that it’s not all about the destination. And two, the directions must be delivered in a way that works for us.

The next step.

It’s critical to have a goal. Being clear on your destination will shape and guide every decision you make along the way, but it’s important to remember that there is more than one way to reach the same destination. Even when we ask Mr GPS, we get a few options. With tolls or without? Longest or shortest route? Public transport or walking? The destination is where we want to end up, but what becomes immediately important is the next step we need to make.

As a small business lawyer, my clients often have a good idea of where they want their business to end up, but they aren’t sure what legal mechanisms can be used to get them there. They often need help working out the best way to approach things and the order to do it in.

Sometimes the information we need to map the right course isn’t within our knowledge, and we need to talk to lawyers, accountants and other professionals who do this sort of thing every day. Knowledge and the right advice enables us to make good decisions.

Your GPS.

My GPS is on the default settings, but the clever designers who create these things know that we all respond to different types of communication, and something as simple as the tone or type of voice can make our journey all that more pleasant.

It’s very similar when we’re taking direction from those around us. Some people will offer advice with no context whatsoever of our circumstances. Some are insulted if you choose not to take it. Other, well-meaning folk, will just agree with everything you suggest because they don’t want to upset you. Even professionals with a wealth of knowledge you need to access can be clunky in the way they explain it. Finding a good source of advice and having people who will communicate effectively with you is critical when it comes to choosing a path for your business.

I find it helpful to map out a business journey and look at the milestones between where my clients are now and where they want to be. I can use each significant event in their business as a marker to help them know what direction to take and, in my case, which legal documents they will need to traverse that section of the journey. That’s how I communicate, and I collect clients who operate in the same manner.

Make sure whoever is guiding you, speaks your language. If you need facts and figures, or charts and diagrams find someone who delivers their service that way. If you want someone who understands the big picture of your business and provides guidance based on that level of context, keep looking till you find them.

You won’t hit it off with all the professionals you encounter in life but keep trying. And if the default setting doesn’t work for you, keep tweaking. Understand the importance of your destination but take the time to involve the right people in helping you take the next steps.

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